While there is no right or wrong time to wean from breastfeeding, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that you breastfeed for at least one year. Why one year? This allows baby to reap big benefits from breastfeeding."The basic principle is that infants need human milk, or an equivalent, while milk is the major component of their diet. By one year of age, most babies have transitioned to a diet that is mostly [solid] food, and milk becomes just a beverage," advises Dr Charles Shubin, director of pediatrics, Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. However, if baby self-weans earlier, it's okay.
Self-weaning is when baby stops breastfeeding on his own. Ideally, your baby will nurse until he outgrows the need. This is called natural, or baby-led weaning.
Weaning isn't a one-day, one-time-only event. It's a process that will take you from breastmilk feeding to formula or milk feeding (depending on age and doctor's advice). "Abruptly withdrawing the breast can cause emotional trauma in the baby. Since nursing is not only a source of food for a baby, but a source of security and emotional comfort as well, taking it away abruptly can be very disturbing. Weaning gradually lets you slowly substitute others kinds of attention to help compensate for the loss of the closeness of nursing," says Anne Smith, a board-certified lactation consultant.
Your breastmilk tastes different than formula, which tastes different than milk. Weaning slowly helps to adapt your child's tastes. So what does that mean? It could mean that baby isn't fond of formula or milk the first few times she tries it.
Ease your child out of breastfeeding by serving the replacement milk cut with breastmilk. Slowly increase the replacement milk and decrease the breastmilk. This will allow baby to develop a taste for the replacement milk before going hardcore with the new milk.
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